TACOMA, Wash. — A Tacoma man arrested in the death of his 4-month-old son earlier this week has been charged with second-degree murder.
Samuel Byron Kennedy, 23, was arrested on Tuesday after a social worker at Mary Bridge Children’s Hospital called Tacoma police after the child with head trauma was brought to the hospital.
The child arrived in an ambulance after medics called to a Tacoma apartment found the child was not breathing.
Doctors at the hospital had told a social worker the boy’s injury was consistent with recent abusive head trauma and the baby had two similar injuries from about 10 to 15 days earlier, according to probable cause documents from the Pierce County Prosecutor’s Office.
The social worker told police that after Kennedy arrived at the hospital, his “attitude did not match the tragedy of his child.” For example, Kennedy asked if Child Protective Services had been called and if he was in trouble, documents said. He then became defensive, saying he did not hit or harm his son, according to the social worker.
The child died from the injuries the following day.
Police spoke with the child’s mother, who said she had known Kennedy for about four years and they were married last December. The couple had three children together, ages 3, 2 and 4 months old.
She said on the day her youngest child stopped breathing, she had gone to work and had been there for a few hours when Kennedy called her and said the baby was not breathing. As she drove home, she called her husband who told her their son would be going to the hospital.
The woman told officers the baby had an ear infection a few days earlier and had an allergic reaction to the amoxicillin he was given, but the reaction only resulted in a rash.
When an officer spoke with Kennedy, he noted that the child’s mother was upset and crying, but Kennedy was calm and didn’t appear to be upset.
Kennedy told investigators that he had been watching his three children when his other son threw his bottle, which hit the 4-month-old in the head, leaving a small bump on his forehead. The bottle was described as being 6 to 8 ounces and made of soft plastic.
When the baby cried, Kennedy said he picked up his son and eventually put him back in his rocker, but 15 to 20 minutes later, he heard the baby exhale deeply, which caused concern. That’s when he discovered his son was not breathing, so unsure of what to do, he went to his downstairs neighbor who is a family member, for help. Documents said 911 was called from that apartment.
Police said Kennedy denied ever dropping or shaking his son, and showed investigators how he gave CPR to his son.
“During this demonstration, the defendant imitated grabbing the victim and lifting him to his eye level and shaking him back and forth. Per the report, the defendant appeared to realize the actions he was making with his hands and stopped upon realizing this. He then demonstrated placing the victim on his chest and rubbing his back. After further investigation, the defendant was placed under arrest,” probable cause documents said.
After his arrest, Kennedy admitted to shaking his son and causing his injuries. While Kennedy was on the way to jail, police said he would “yell in distress,” and then say, “I killed my kid.”
During a later interview with detectives, Kennedy said he had just gotten the boy settled when his other son threw the bottle and woke him up. He then said, “I (expletive) up and shook (him)” and “I got frustrated ... I didn’t mean to kill him,” and that he “shook him too rough and he started gurgling.”
The Pierce County Medical Examiner’s Office confirmed the boy died of blunt force trauma to his head. His manner of death was classified as homicide.
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